Barrie, opioid

I Am Not A “Coddled Junkie”. Nor Is Anyone. Allow Me To Explain Why.

I got an email today about my recent article in the Barrie Advance. I would like to share this email and my response for educational purposes. Thank you.

When will you people realize that coddling these junkies doesn’t work?
They don’t want help. They are homeless by choice.
There are thousands of OW and ODSP recipients who get free perscriptions of opiates then turn around and sell these pills for thousands of dollars a month.
1 oxy 80 sells for $80.
At 160 pills that’s $12800.00 a month.
These people have all day every day to manipulate the system and get free drugs.
This happens every day in Barrie.
When, are you people going to open your eyes and address the real problem???
You all blow smoke out of your asses but not one of you has the balls to address the real problem.
I invite anyone of you useless city workers to sit on my porch any day of the week and watch this go on.
For once it would be nice to see real action.
I look forward to a reply with a real solution.
So far your words are completely meaningless.
We aren’t interested in your nonsense.
We are interested in a real solution.

My reply:

Thank you for your email. Question: Do you follow my website? (www.votenatalie.ca) If you do, thank you, but you may have missed this post from a few weeks ago: https://thevotenatalie.wordpress.com/2019/10/02/opioid-crisis-efforts-update/

And this post: https://thevotenatalie.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/here-to-help-barrie/

And this post as well: https://thevotenatalie.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/meeting-with-raam-and-mpps/

I almost forgot this post: https://thevotenatalie.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/my-comments-last-night-about-a-supervised-consumption-site/

Oops…and this one: https://thevotenatalie.wordpress.com/2019/05/31/the-barrie-rapid-addiction-medicine-raam-centre/

I also found this one: https://thevotenatalie.wordpress.com/2019/04/26/opioid-town-hall/

Here is a link to the Connected Core Barrie as well: https://m.facebook.com/connectedcorebarrie/

I am here if you have any questions about these posts. But I will not reply to comments that state I am, “coddling junkies”. Or that we are “useless city employees”.

I appreciate the invitation, but I don’t need to sit on your porch to know the effect addiction has on individuals. I saw it first hand behind the scenes, in the living rooms, in the alleys, in the business offices, and in the homes of individuals bringing in every level of income as a paramedic for eleven years.

I’ve held the hands of the dying and heard parents scream in pain. I’ve brought people back from the brink of death with needles in their arms and their children standing by watching. I’ve seen the despair of loved ones who don’t understand the grip of addiction. I’ve hugged children who will be taken into CAS’ custody… after I had to call CAS myself.

I am also a recovering addict myself. And if you don’t mind, I prefer to be called this rather than a, “coddled useless city employee”.

Furthermore, the mayor and I are actively working together to get addiction treatment brought to Barrie. A lot of things are happening behind the scenes to address this crisis. It’s just not public yet.

So now may I ask you a question? What are YOU doing to help with this? I would genuinely like to know. And welcome any constructive feedback.

Sincerely,

Natalie Harris

Ward 6 City Councillor

His reply:

Spoken like an entitled addict. Let’s see, I’ve been woken up to the sound of random gunshots, 7 to be exact. Witnessed a man stabbed to death over his portion of the dope. Watched and reported multiple drug deals that resulted in a slap on the wrist. Spoken to multiple police officers who’s hands are tied repeatedly arresting the same people over and over again. I’ve been robbed. I’ve been assaulted. My home and multiple vehicles have been vandalized. I use the word “useless “ because it is fitting. Nobody forced you to be a paramedic. What you experienced is part of the job. I have worked right beside you and seen my share of death and destruction. So, I will say again, coddling these junkies is not solving the problem. Is parking an ambulance permanently at the Busby Centre the solution? No. Is cracking down on the suppliers a solution?  It’s funny, thousands of people get these drugs from their doctors. They don’t need them. They know the street value. You want to throw millions of dollars at this problem. But not one of you will actually deal with the root cause of this problem. Which brings me right back to the useless part. So your reply, is exactly what I expected. None of you are doing anything but creating a whole new industry.

As to the law abiding citizen, who pay the taxes to support you and this industry, I guess that’s your new job? To take away our rights to live in peace? Your right, their rights are more important than ours?

Thank you for not helping with this problem.

So as it seems, this person did not take the time to click on the links I provided where all of his questions are answered. I always value the perspectives of every individual; we all have different views which are important to consider. But when we don’t take the time to at least consider education that is provided to us, there comes a time when an email chain must cease. I wish this individual well. And if he ever finds himself in need of support as an addict himself, or caring for one in his family one day, I will be here for him.

Barrie, opioid

Core Community Baseball Game

We had such a great day playing baseball with community members who are battling addiction. With varying lengths of sobriety and clean time, individuals played against local police, fire fighters and paramedics. It was all about unity and bringing the community together! I was the “coach” (I use that term lightly!) of the core community team and we won 8-1! This will hopefully be an annual event.

Barrie, opioid

My Thoughts On The Discussion At The Barrie-Innisfil Candidate’s Forum Regarding The Opioid Crisis

I was not able to attend the Barrie-Innisfil Candidates Forum. But I was happy to learn from the media that the opioid crisis was (not surprisingly) a topic of discussion. Thank you to all of the candidates for their input and dedication to this topic. With all due respect, at this time, I would like to elaborate on/clarify a few points made by NDP candidate, Pekka Reinio.

“We need to address the opioid crisis,” Reinio said. “It seems like the municipal council is stalling for now, and I don’t know why.” Barrie Today, October 4, 2019.

The municipal council is not stalling with respect to the opioid crisis; I think it is very important to remember that management of the opioid crisis includes MUCH more than the approval of a supervised consumption site. Actions are being taken as we speak by some councillors that address the crisis and call for better fulsome treatment options. In fact, I am having a meeting today in Toronto at Women’s College Hospital, with the META:PHI directors to discuss funding in Barrie and complementing treatment options. I will also be meeting with the Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Michael Tibillo, on October 11, 2019, to continue the discussions I had with him, Mayor Jeff Lehman, and fellow councillors at the Association of Municipalities (AMO) Conference in Ottawa this past August.

The NDP candidate said if his party was elected, they would immediatey declare national crisis on opioids, “hopefully freeing some money so municipalities can follow the guidelines of the Simcoe Muskoka (Opioid Strategy), which says we need to have safe injection sites.” Barrie Today, October 4, 2019.

I agree, declaring a national emergency on the opioid crisis, (which I proposed to council early last year), is ideal with respect to securing provincial and federal funds that will save lives. But once again, I think it is very important to remember that the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy (SMOS) identifies several pillars dedicated to addressing this crisis, beyond harm reduction.

What we have is MORE than an opioid crisis. We have a mental health and addiction crisis. Overall, I have been very much in favour of having a supervised consumption site in Barrie, but I am afraid that the discussion and debate surrounding this has caused some of our community and policy makers to unintentionally under-acknowledge the fact that fulsome treatment is really what is required to make a major change in the opioid crisis.

Any funds available should be used for all of SMOS’s pillars; prevention, treatment and clinical practice, harm reduction, enforcement and emergency management. And when we look at these pillars under a social welfare microscope, these pillars further extend into housing, education and overall health and wellness.

So what does all of this mean to me as Ward 6 City Councillor in Barrie? Well, overall I am so happy that the discussion surrounding the opioid crisis is vibrant among all of our federal candidates. I look forward to working with whomever is elected to tackle this topic and save lives.

Barrie, opioid

Here To Help – Barrie

Here To Help – Barrie, is a grassroots volunteer group who walk the streets of Barrie and provide resource material/pamphlets to anyone in need. Our mission is to compliment services already available and provide meaningful connection with the marginalized. Do you have a community resource you would like us to share? Just send me a message. You can find us on Facebook under, “Here To Help – Barrie”.

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Barrie, opioid

Meeting With RAAM and MPPs

Today I had a wonderful meeting with the Rapid Action Addiction Medicine (RAAM) managers, Attorney General Doug Downey, MPP Andrea Khanjin, mothers who have lost their children to a drug overdose and fellow advocate Marc Hanuman.

We discussed the following:

– Adding an RN to the staff of the withdrawal management team (detox)

– Improving advertising of the RAAM

– Making Barrie’s RAAM open 24/7

– Developing a pilot project in Barrie that offers a satellite treatment centre in cooperation with RVH

– Adding a staff member to the RAAM clinic who would liaise with RVH’s emergency department and the RAAM

– Increase volunteer peer-support positions with lived-experience individuals

– Begin communication with the paramedic services base-hospital physician to potentially create a diversion protocol for stable withdrawal patients

…and so much more.

I will be setting a follow-up meeting ASAP. The discussion around the table was very promising!